Scotland, what are they doing to you?
The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon tried hard to persuade on the Today Programme that an independent Scotland with a shared currency is a perfectly workable idea. She sounded a bit like a teenager trying to convince her parents that Sam's party on Saturday night will totes be chaperoned, "It'll be fine mum and dad! GOD why does no one get me?"
As a Welsh girl studying in Edinburgh, it is with a heavy heart that I hear the nationalistic cries for independence. You can't fool me SNP, with your White Papers and your shoddy economic policies. I've heard it all before, albeit in slightly Welsher accents.
Let's get the facts straight: first off, everyone in Wales speaks English, but not many speak Welsh (only around 20%). In Wales, the majority of schools teach in English, but there are also Welsh Language schools where all subjects are taught and examined in Welsh. I went to one of those schools. There, I experienced a lot of hate. Not levelled at me directly, but at an enemy perceived to directly threaten our culture: the dreaded English. Prejudice was taught in Welsh school as though it was part of the curriculum. From an early age, I was an expert in the wrongs Wales encountered at the hands of the English; from the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley to the beheading of Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, the last true Prince of Wales. Sure, that may have happened seven hundred years ago, but that won't stop Welsh nationalists from losing their heads over it. Sorry, too soon?
Like a class A drug, the English language is forbidden in Welsh schools. Maybe it could be argued that this is merely to encourage the prosperity of the Welsh language, but I would argue that it is a policy rooted in fear. There is a self-defeatist attitude prevalent amongst Welsh speaking communities keen to isolate rather than integrate, protecting themselves from what they perceive as "English corruption", and yes, they too will often make the case for an independent Wales. The result in an elitist culture whose language is increasingly defunct.
My primary school was the perfect metaphor for the problem, spliced as it was to an English language school with whom we shared facilities. We were expressly forbidden from interacting with the 'English' children, (who were mostly Welsh, but didn't speak Welsh, and were thus, of course, English) and were frequently told stories about their headmaster, who reportedly told ours, "We want you out!" This inevitably caused a tension between the children of the two schools which was hardly discouraged.
Worse than that though was the unspoken distinction made in both my primary and high school between the Welsh and the really Welsh. Years ago, it was decided that something should be done to prevent the death of the Welsh language. English speaking parents were encouraged to send their children to Welsh Language schools in a bid to combat the decline. Initiative upon initiative has been launched in Wales to encourage children and their parents to learn Welsh and help it prosper. But my advice to those parents? Don't bother. If, like me, your family hasn't spoken Welsh for generations, then your child is hardly likely to thrive in a Welsh Language school. This is not because they will be at any linguistic disadvantage - I can pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyndrobwlllantisiliogogogoch as well as the next person - but because of the culture of favouritism the school had for its really Welsh students. From the lead parts in school plays, to prestigious school accolades, they always got best. And when you tell a child they're no good, they believe you. Sound bitter? You're damn right I am.
All this because of a feud with the English that goes back hundreds of years, and which I doubt the English are aware they're still having. Parties like Plaid Cymru often try to make waves around election time, making dubious claims about Wales's capacity to self-contain. The frustratingly paradoxical attitude displayed by a culture that wishes to thrive in isolation hardly encourages pride in one's roots. Despite my being entirely fluent in Welsh, would I teach it to my future children? I'm not so sure.
Fortunately, Plaid has not yet achieved the following that the SNP has, but their values are strikingly similar. When you look to the real roots of the extreme proposal for Scottish independence, you will find a policy grounded in hate: Scotland and England have a historically turbulent past, Mr Salmond capitalizing on this notion to promote his fanatical views. It is unlikely that independence will benefit Scotland beyond sticking it to the English. The case for Scottish independence is grounded in bitterness and prejudice. If you'd rather your children didn't harbour those traits, then Scotland, accept independence at your peril.